The Forest Service (FS) has released its draft for the forest plan revision on the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests. It will be one plan for both forests. The FS released the draft on the Friday before Christmas, effectively shortening the public comment period. Friends of the Clearwater (FOC) and allies from around the region then submitted a letter to the FS requesting a public comment period extension. The agency has since extended the public comment deadline until Monday March 19, 2020.
FOC is currently organizing community meetings around the state of Idaho, as well as eastern Washington and western Montana. Click here to view the ones that have been finalized – more are being planned. The FS has also begun having public meetings. FS plan meetings
Some Initial Concerns – Draft Plan Alternatives
The Wild Clearwater Country is the northern half of the largest undeveloped watershed complex in the Lower 48. It is also part of the furthest inland temperate rainforest in the world. This special place also provides crucial habitat for native species such as grizzly bears, wolverines, fisher, salmon, steelhead and Bull trout.
The FS failed to analyze and include FOC’s Citizen Conservation Biology Alternative in the draft plan. Our alternative is based on the best available science, and generated approximately 10,000 comments (of support) during the scoping period. This is a key omission by the FS in the draft plan.
Recommended Wilderness, Designated Wilderness and Wild Rives
The draft plan poses a severe threat to the remaining 1.5-million acres of undeveloped wildlands in the Clearwater. The FS has indicated that any roadless areas not recommended as wilderness in the new forest plan could be developed (logged). These irreplaceable roadless areas, which provide some of the best habitat in the Basin, should instead be recommended as Wilderness, including the roadless areas adjacent to the Gospel – Hump Wilderness, which were wrongfully omitted in the 2008 Idaho Roadless Rule. Weitas Creek, in particular, deserves to be recommended.
The draft plan barely addresses existing designated Wilderness, and omits any mention of improving old wilderness stewardship plans.
The draft plan would also allow development in wild and scenic rivers, and most alternatives would be less protective than the existing condition.
Standards for watersheds, old growth, fish and wildlife habitat
There are no quantitative standards for protecting watersheds and fish and wildlife habitat in the new draft plan. This is a huge problem, as the current plan has enforceable standards that the agency must adhere to. Considering the current crisis facing wild steelhead and salmon, this draft plan would further drive each species towards extinction.
The draft plan would allow logging in designated old growth, a departure from current standards that protect old growth habitat from development. This could greatly affect old-growth dependent species like the imperiled Northern Rockies Fisher.
Grizzly bear recovery is ignored in the draft plan. Natural corridors on both forests would be fragmented, and there would be little-to-no secure habitat for grizzlies outside of designated Wilderness.
Every alternative in the revised plan increases logging levels for these two forests, and eliminates the forest’s potential to sequester carbon, which is sorely needed. Both forests would be largely manipulated.
Submit A Comment
The public comment period ends on Monday April 20, 2020. Comments can be sent electronically through the agency’s website/comment form. They can also be sent via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide your name and address when submitting comments. Or you can mailed them at:
Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Supervisors Office
903 3rd Street
Kamiah, ID 83536
Feel free to call our office at 208-882-9755 or send us an email if you have questions about the draft plan revision. Thank you.